Risiko Evolution

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  • #8548

    Kleiner Review, Spoilerfrei.
    I’ve had about 9 hours of sleep and as many cups of coffee in the last three days.

    Since receiving Risk Legacy in the mail earlier this week, along with Dominion: Hinterlands, I’ve already played 4 games of Risk Legacy. Once each on Tuesday and Thursday. Twice (in 3 short hours) on Wednesday. Even after some of my friends leave and the games are over, we all sit and discuss how enthralled we are and excited for the next game, which is always whenever we can get a quorum of 3-4 regulars around for the next game.

    And all I’ve done with my Dominion set is arrange it in the box. It is one of my favorite games prior to this.

    My original plan was to play 10-15 games before reviewing, and maybe I still will to see if my opinion remains as strongly positive. But I just couldn’t hold back my excitement any longer. I’ve not felt like this about a game since I read a 4th Edition Magic the Gathering rulebook back in the 90s and I pulled a Shivan Dragon in my starter pack, or the time I finally beat my dad in a chess game, after playing every day for a month.

    As you open the box, you’ll see all of these sealed envelopes with conditions in bold letters. You tear them open when the conditions are met. But what’s in them will likely be more awesome than you’re expecting. I don’t even want to say anything about them, because there’s so much joy and anticipation in the discovery.

    As you open the rulebook, you’ll see that the basic premise is just like the other Risk games you’ve played. Nearly anyone who has played a game has played it before. You have a map of the world. Continents which give static boosts to your troop output should you manage to keep them until your next turn. Attacker rolls up to 3 dice, and the defender 2, but he wins on ties. Although high in variance and a bit dated, keeping these basic mechanics help create a framework that most people understand.

    But this isn’t your daddy’s risk.

    One of the most striking new wrinkles is the addition of five different Factions, which make this game have an asymmetric start. Many of the names come from a previous Rob Daviau Risk game: Risk 2210 AD. There’s the Imperial Balkania, which likes to spread out across the board, the Enclave of the Bear which is aggressive and feral, the mobile Saharan Empire, the numerous Khan Industries, and the robotic and defensive Die Mechaniker. On your first game, each of these factions will get one of two powers, and the other power will never appear in your copy of Risk Legacy. At my house, we suddenly found a great new use for our paper shredder.

    The other new thing you do before setting up the first game is take 12 coin stickers and attach them to some territory cards, making those locations more desirable to hold or invade. Unlike the territory cards in previous Risk games, territory cards here are resource cards with a certain coin value rather than the old pictures of infantry, artillery, or cavalry. They’re gained throughout the game on any turn when you capture at least one territory from an opponent. If none of the territory cards showing are territories you control, you take one of the generic coin resource cards which always have a value of 1. Resource cards are traded in for troops much like the sets to get troops in classic Risk only the number of troops you get is always linked to the total value of coins you turn in, rather than however many sets have been turned in so far.

    More importantly, you can turn in 4 cards to get 1 Red Star, which are the game’s victory points. You only need 4 Red Stars to win a game. It happens much more quickly than you’d think because your starting Headquarters and any HQ’s you conquer are also worth 1 Red Star. If you’ve never won a game on this particular copy of Risk, you even get 1 bonus Red Star at the start of the game. So on your first game, everyone is 2/4 of the way to outright victory. Our games have lasted between 50 and 90 minutes.

    If you have won on this particular copy of Risk, you’ll know because you signed your name on the left side of the board, perhaps with a motto. When my Die Mechaniker won using North Africa as their seat of power, I signed it James Sitz „AFRIKANUS“ and when one of two guys named Phil won, he extolled the virtues of the „Philliance!!!!“ You’ll also start with a missile for each victory, which is a one-shot item that can change any die rolled into a 6, even if you aren’t involved in that combat!

    On your first few turns of the game, you start from one place and gradually spread out, often taking over a continent before the real battles begin. This reminds me quite a bit of Nexus Ops actually, which is a good thing in my book. This initial posturing step where you carve out your own niche on the planet is quite a bit different than the typical spread out way that most Risk versions‘ games begin.

    After that, it’s quick and brutal. Your HQ locations and defensive posturing become very important. As pointed out in the recent „Miami Dice“ episode, this isn’t really a world conquest game anymore. If you’re the guy with two continents and no red stars, you’re not the unstoppable juggernaut, you’re an unwieldy behemoth who will probably lose.

    Once the game ends, the victor signs the board and gets to pick from a long list of cool fun things to do. It’s in the book, you can see it yourself. If you lose but aren’t wiped off the face of the map, you can pick a territory that you were still occupying at game’s end and improve it in some way, either by founding a Minor City (complete with name) or by adding a coin sticker to that card, increasing its resource value in future games.

    And if it’s not too late you’ll probably play again.

    One of the chief worries among naysayers who’ve never played the game is that you’re destroying your game, and that this is a throw-away, disposable product. That can’t be further from the truth. The fact that you know that every decision you make can alter the world forever lends gravity to each choice. You’re not destroying your copy of Risk Legacy; you’re creating it, step by step; you personalize it. (I’m thrilled as hell that I was able to win a game and name a Major City Jimbabwe in South Africa. Even when I lost a couple games, I got to put Sitzbörg in Scandinavia and Rio de Jameiro in Brazil). When you pick up that pen and get ready to mark a sticker or the back of your Faction card to say whether you won or lost, you know that you’re making part of your shared history. You’re helping to create a snapshot of that game so that you can fill someone in on what they missed in the last game. Many of the „pieces“ that you destroy are actually garbage. They’re cards that you remove stickers from. Sometimes they’re one-time use cards. Do you ever cry and mourn for the loss of the cardboard skeleton that remains after you punch out the chits for your other games? Do you keep that skeleton and frame it on your wall?

    What surprises me the most about a significant chunk of these critics is that the thought of the game being dead after 15 sessions scares them, but when you skim their carefully orchestrated opus of recorded plays and meticulously itemized collections, they have perhaps 100-300 games and none of them have over 10 plays. It seems that the mere thought of profaning a sacred $50 board game with a sticker gives them goosebumps. I call that sticker-shock. If I can get 15 plays with 4 good friends from a 50 dollar game, I call that a win.

    If you’re more a collector than a player, you should probably stay away from Risk Legacy. If you’re thinking you might like this and are looking for a good beers and bros kind of game, get off your rump and get to your local game store to buy it tonight, and then play it this Saturday. Don’t wait until Christmas for your big order to ship. Play it now. The worst thing that could happen is that you’ll have 2 copies.


    Turning a (more or less) strategic board into an event…

    => Sorry, this is serious gaming!  😛

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